March 9, 2016

Meet Octopus Prime!

03/09/2016, 11:00 AM

Hackettstown, N.J. – Dr. James Monks, Assistant Professor of Biology at Centenary University, was interested in conducting a study with undergraduate students — an opportunity that is rare for students on the undergraduate level.  Octopus Prime, a 14 week-old octopus from California, found a new home at Centenary University.  As a result, Dr. Monks and two of his students, Sara Taylor and Taylor Doll, have a subject to study and the process should prove to be fascinating.

Octopus Prime was named through a Twitter competition that Centenary’s Social Media Center of Expertise, #theVIBE, ran to engage students in the process.  Octopus Prime was the definite winner named after the Transformers character Optimus Prime and because Octopus Prime is the first octopus subject at the College.
Doll and Taylor, along with Dr. Monks, will study the actions of Octopus Prime during the academic year.  They will train him to do tasks, such as travel through a maze and open the lid of a jar to remove food inside, as octopuses are understood to be very intelligent creatures.  Octopuses are non-vertebrate animals, which means they have a poorly localized brain, as almost 2/3 of their brain cells are located in their tentacles.

“Since their brains are not located in just one place, the intelligence is different than almost any other animal,” says Dr. Monks.  “His ability to camouflage to change color and textures is really amazing and we enjoy watching his behavior.  The opportunity to observe and study a complex animal like this is rarely found in many institutions and will be an impressive achievement in their resumes.”

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.